How to wash and care for your down jacket or sleeping bag

By Alice Peyredieu

As with all outdoor gear: the more you look after your gear, the more it will look after you. Down jackets and sleeping bags are expensive and treating it like an investment will keep them good for years.

Care and regular washing will extend the effective lifespan of your down jacket and sleeping bag and give you a clean and fresh feeling every use. Regular users may want to wash their jackets and bags once or twice a year.

These cleaning instructions apply to both our range of down sleeping bags and down jackets.

  1. Down jacket and sleeping bag care and storage tips

  2. How to wash a down sleeping bag or jacket

  3. Professional cleaning and Alpkit Down Wash Service

Slovenia down

Down jacket and sleeping bag care and storage tips

Down is a natural product and can start to compress and get clumpy after repeated stuffings in packs and bags. Particularly if you do not store in a cool, dry, airy condition.

  • Store your down product in a clean, dry and ventilated area.
  • Keep down sleeping bags as clean as possible: sleep in long underwear or using a cotton or silk sleeping bag liner to reduce the number of times you will have to wash your bag.
  • Spot treat any dirt, spills or oil stains as soon as possible.
  • Don't pull out any escaping feathers. Push them back in.
  • Avoid hanging bags and jackets over a rail.
  • Stuff it loosely inside its large grey cotton storage bag so that it retains its loft.
  • Do not store your sleeping bag in its compression stuff sack or when it is damp.

Slovenia down 2

How to wash a down sleeping bag or jacket

What will I need?

  • A large tumble dryer is worth its weight in gold as air drying takes a long time and you will have to constantly agitate the down as it dries to ensure that it does not clump.

  • A bath or large capacity washing machine (10 kg).

  • NikWaxDown Wash

  • NikWax Down Proof (optional)

  • Clean tennis ball or tennis shoe

The how-to

Stage1A - Hand wash (the gentle approach)

If you share a house with other people make sure you negotiate an appropriate time slot since this may take some time.

  1. Fill your bath with lukewarm water mixing in either pure soap flakes or our favourite down cleaner.

  2. Place your sleeping bag into the bath and gently press it down so it is submerged.

  3. Agitate it a little and then go and get a cup of tea and some biscuits.

  4. After an hour or so let the water drain from the bath and refill with fresh water. Gently massage the bag to remove the soap from the down, if you have a shower head this could work well.

  5. Keep at it until all the soapy water is removed. Gently push down on the down bag to evacuate as much water as possible.

IMPORTANT:Do not wring or squeeze the bag, this will damage the down.


Stage1B - Machine wash (the less gentle approach)

We recommend using a large capacity front loading washing machine(over 10 kg capacity), but the bigger the bag the more capacity you'll need. A normal household machine has a capacity of under 7kg and is just not going to cut the mustard.

  1. Try to remove all soap residues by flushing the machine through with an empty wash and clean out the soap dispenser.

  2. Set the water temperature to 30C (warm) and fill the soap dispenser with the recommended quantity of Nikwax Down Wash(this will depend on the weight of the bag).

  3. After the wash cycle is complete, rinse the bag thoroughly.

Stage2 - Waterproofing (optional)

You can increase the effectiveness of your down in damp conditions by treating it with Nikwax Down Proof.

  1. Before removing your wet bag from the washing machine reload the dispenser with the recommended quantity of Down Proof.

  2. Let your machine work its magic whilst you have some custard cream and a coffee or if you are using the bath roll up your sleeves again and get hands-on(and ask someone else to get you custard creams).

Stage3 - Rinse well
  1. Rinse until the water runs clear.

Stage4 - Drying your sleeping bag

Now, what are you going to do with that soggy mass of feathers?

IMPORTANT: Take care when lifting your bag, it will be heavy so keep a straight back, bend your knees and avoid putting any stress on the bag's seams.

  1. If you have tumble dryer we told you about earlier, set it to the lowest heat option(take care with launderettes as they seem to have one single setting that could melt glass).

  2. Throw in the clean tennis shoe or tennis balls with your bag. As the bag dries these will break up the down clumps. Large bags will require several hours of tumbling before they are dry.

  3. We recommend tumble drying when using products such as Nikwax Down Proof as the heat helps cure the waterproofing to the fabric quicker.


  1. No dryer? Lay it opened in a clean, dry, and shady area to dry.

  2. Massage and separate the drying down until completely dry.

  3. Air drying a bag can take days! If your bag is left unattended the down will clump together and it will not be nice and fluffy.

IMPORTANT: Do not just throw your bag over the washing line and leave it to drip dry overnight. Better still, place in the dryer on a low heat.. oh did we say that already?

Professional cleaning and Alpkit Down Wash Service

Do I have to have my down washed professionally?

We offer a professional cleaning service. Get in touch if you'd like us to wash your bag. However, if you're keen to do it yourself, read on for method for washing your down.

IMPORTANT: We do not recommend dry cleaning or bleaching down products.

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